Published by

Craven Street Books

​​What Others are Saying About the Book

Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox
Tikkun Daily 

"Reading this book will set your hair on fire and your third chakra racing while your sense of moral outrage boils over.  Yet it is presented in subdued and sober terms, with fact after fact and story after story, building a sure case against the canonizing of Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra."  . . . read more

Edd Doerr
Americans for Religious Liberty Journal

"Elias Castillo's remarkable book starts with a concise history of Spain's brutal conquest/colonization of the Americas, followed by a detailed, well-researched, documented account of the chain of Franciscan missions in California... (when) numerous small tribes ("triblets") were induced or hearded into 21 missions." read more

Ben Nighthorse Campbell
U.S. Senator - Retired

​"When one gazes upon the beautiful, Spanish-style, red-tiled roofs of the Missions of California, they are unaware, as I once was, of what can be found on the underside of those tiles. Many years ago, I saw the imprints from the skin of Indian slaves, who bent and shaped those tiles over their own thighs in the hot California sun. Mr. Castillo tells a story of which far too many people are simply not aware, the enslavement of California Indians under the mission system. While many Americans know of the Trail of Tears and other Indian atrocities, most do not know of the atrocities perpetrated on Indian people in California. A Cross of Thorns sheds light on this period in history."

What spurred Castillo to write the book?

Elias Castillo

Author Elias Castillo shatters the image of California's Missions as idyllic places where Franciscan friars and Indians lived in an environment of mutual respect.

In reality, the Missions were death camps where more than 60,000 Indian workers died, many as a result of whippings, disease, and malnutrition. 

The book is the result of more than six years of research and study of original documents including eyewitness accounts by early travelers, records kept by the friars, and historic letters by church and government authorities in Alta California and Mexico.   Read an excerpt

Why Junipero Serra Should Not be Canonized

This book was written to document the suffering of California Indians during the mission period when more than 60,000 died. Since its publication Pope Francis has said the catholic church will canonize Junipero Serra. The book contains historic details that argue against sainthood.  

Here is an essay I wrote for the San Jose Mercury News  summarizing reasons to oppose sainthood.

For more of the debate over this issue:

"This is a very important book. It documents the cruel history of what happened in the missions where thousands of people died."

Valentin Lopez


Amah Mutsun Tribal Band

of Costanoan/Ohlone Indians

What the

New York Times

Has to Say 

​"In that spirit, it is helpful to read a book like “A Cross of Thorns,” by Elias Castillo. . . 

At the Berkeley Book Fair